...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tamdhu 10 year old (current bottling), and pausing BARD Friday

I'm taking a few weeks off from Bourbon and Rye Day Friday. American whiskey has been my go-to for casual drinking this summer and, as often happens, I've reached a saturation point after two months. All that oak stuff exhausts my palate after a while. One might say I can't handle my wood. Or perhaps I've handled it too much.

Also my Scottish samples outnumber my American samples by a ratio of 7:1, so I need to make a dent in the scotch. And it wouldn't hurt if I occasionally reviewed a contemporary whisky.

Back when it was in The Edrington Group's portfolio, Tamdhu bottled a very limp 10 year old. I always found this odd because Edrington was simultaneously releasing excellent official versions of their other distilleries, Highland Park and Macallan. My theory had been that the 10yo was just an afterthought, with most of the Tamdhu malt going into Famous Grouse, but then The Group sold Tamdhu to independent bottler Ian Macleod. The new ownership pulled the old version off the market, replacing it with a sexier bottle, with more sherry cask action and a 125% price increase.

The bottle is cute and I do want to support a small-ish scotch company, but damn, $65 for a 43%abv 10 year old?! Luckily this whisky made an appearance at Columbus Scotch Night in July, so I was able to slink away with a review sample.

Distillery: Tamdhu
Ownership: Ian Macleod Distillers
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: 10 year old
Maturation: ex-sherry casks, a mix of American and European oak
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chillfiltered? Probably
Colored? whiskybase says No

Its dark gold color looks only moderately suspicious. The nose begins with an amusing combo of dark chocolate, toffee, new sneakers and a slightly funky moldy note. There's something phenolic in here, but I'm not sure it's from peat. With time it picks up toasted oak notes, and the dark chocolate turns to milk chocolate. The palate starts with a rich Oloroso note reminiscent of (if not better than) GlenDronach 12. As it opens up, it gets a spicy and effervescent feeling, like good ginger beer. Here comes some PX sweetness to go along with a bitter chocolate note. Both floral and earthy at times. The finish has fresh ginger, milk chocolate, black pepper and soil. A good length to it.

WITH WATER (~35%abv)
The nose is maltier, cleaner. More toffee. Some orange peel and roses. The palate is less earthy, more peppery. The sherry is nuttier and there's just a hint of bitterness. The finish stays long. Similar to the palate, yet it picks up the nose's new orange peel and rose notes.

Much better than I'd expected. There's still some youth and funkiness to it that the big sherry doesn't choke out. Despite the low abv, it swims well, delivering a prettier whisky when diluted. Though I still balk at dishing out ≥$60 for it, Tamdhu 10 is better than most of the sherried stuff at this price, especially Mac 12. If I'm in the mood for its type, and I can find it ≤$50, then I'd buy it.

Availability - Worldwide
Pricing - $55-$70 USA, $35-$50 UK (ex-VAT)
Rating - 85


  1. I've always thought that this would be very competitive at a $45 price point.

    1. Indeed. If this were $45, I'd already have a bottle!

  2. Like you, I was pleasantly surprised by this whisky! I agree that this is a whisky that, in many ways, is better than both the Macallan and GlenDronach 12s. And I have to say that I like the bottle!

    1. I agree. I'd buy this before those two. It's a cool bottle, though I'm wondering how much of the cost of the bottle makes up the whisky's price.

  3. I'd be really curious to see what their sales numbers look like in the US, since they were on the forefront of introducing malts at $60+ without a lot of name recognition.

    1. It's still on the shelves and the price hasn't dropped. Heck, they even have it here in Ohio. Perhaps the stylish bottle is there to counteract the lack of name familiarity.